K to A: Mindfulness Space
Our initiative was to create a mindfulness room and have access to mindfulness resources for students and staff at Whitewood School. We had noticed an increase of anxiety and depression in our students and staff over the past few years. Three staff members have taken mindfulness courses and have since implemented it into their classrooms. We saw benefits to this implementation and wanted to expand it to our entire school by creating this mindfulness room.
Our entry slips for the mindful room showed that the vast majority of the students that utilized the mindful room were entering the room feeling either sad, upset or anxious and left the room feeling calm, peaceful, and responsive to staff and ready to learn. Over 60% of students also reported interest in an after-school mindfulness club. Students reported practicing the mindfulness strategies outside the classroom and some “were even teaching their parents and siblings self-regulation strategies.
Many of our students who were dealing with high-stress situations at home, were coming into school on high alert. This made it difficult for them to sit calmly and pay attention in the classroom setting. But by giving these kids the chance and the space to breathe deeply, to focus their attention on themselves rather than what’s going on externally, has been an effective way to combat stress and improve attention.
There was also a reduction in Office Disciplinary Reports due to disruptive behavior. When there are conflicts or problems that arise, there is a common language that is used among the adults – asking students to use their mindful breathing, to be calm and to ‘find their calm body’, calm mind, etc. The principal has also not had to meet with as many students due to disciplinary reasons, because our students are more able to self-regulate in the classroom.
One of the opportunities that presented itself to us, is that we were in a sense trailblazers for other schools within the school division. In fact, 11 when we first started this initiative not many other schools had even heard of mindfulness before, and once the word spread that students were benefiting from this initiative, other schools became interested and implemented it themselves. They then contacted us for more information and resources, and it was wonderful to know that we were benefiting other students and communities.